Chinese tennis starting to see benefits of commitment with a new star emerging - UBITENNIS
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Chinese tennis starting to see benefits of commitment with a new star emerging

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Li Na’s tennis successor is quickly appearing in the form of Wibing Yu. (Zimbio.com)

Most people who have followed tennis over the last decade are aware of Li Na. The superstar drove tennis in China to new heights when she won the 2011 French Open and then the 2014 Australian Open.

 

Since Na’s retirement in 2014, Chinese tennis has had to wait for a new superstar. Whilst heavy financial investment in sports such as football has quickly been able to attract star players to the new-found wealth of teams in Shanghai and Beijing, building a tennis legacy has taken more time.

Wibing Yu appears to be on the cusp of coming into the mainstream as China’s new hope in the men’s game. The 17 year-old came to wider attention when he won the US Open Junior Singles and Doubles titles earlier this year. Yet it was just this past week with his stunning run to the Shanghai Challenger title that adds more weight to the argument that China will soon be able to compete in a sport that has been largely dominated by players from Europe, The Americas, and Australia, and, more recently, China’s regional rivals, South Korea and Japan.

Players from China have won Challenger titles before. Indeed, Yu is not the only Chinese player to win a title at this level even this season. Ze Zhang picked up his first title at this level in San Francisco in February, whilst Di Wu, also won a title in January 2016. Yet for all their successes, (Zhang has a tour-level win over former Grand Slam semi-finalist Richard Gasquet,) they are both seen as journeymen players who have not quite been capable of carrying the weight of expectation that China is now developing. Neither have been ranked in the Top 100, though both are solidly ranked inside the Top 200.

This is where Yu comes in. At 17 and the Junior No.1, there was cautious optimism that he might make the grade. Now, with a high-level professional Challenger title under his belt, the case for his star potential is slowly but surely gaining more traction. Consider that Yu having won a junior Grand Slam and a Challenger title in the same season puts him in some exclusive and esteemed company. Amongst players in the last five years to have won a junior Grand Slam and a Challenger title are Top 10 star Alexander Zverev, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, and the USA’s Taylor Fritz. All three are Top 100 players, with Zverev and Kyrgios now inside the Top 30.

Tennis may encourage, even require countries to develop their own players to represent them, unlike sports including football where international stars can be convinced to play for Chinese clubs for financial reasons. This does not mean that China has not looked abroad for help. Di Wu is now coached by two-time ATP title winner Davide Sanguinetti, and Yu is coached by Yahum Garcia Sanchez, adding a distinctly European feel to the coaching set-up.

Boris Becker has made a significant commitment to Chinese tennis by opening an academy in Shenzhen (Zimbio.com)

China is not only committed to supplying their existing players with high-profile support. In 2016, former Wimbledon Champion and World No.1 Boris Becker opened his Becker Academy in Shenzhen, site of a Chinese professional tour event.

Becker: “Clearly there is tremendous talent and potential among young tennis players in China.

China appears to be putting significant grassroots down to build for the tennis future. Li Na’s legacy is already appearing in the form of Wibing Yu, and he is likely just the first in a number of Chinese players set to appear in the higher reaches of the game in the coming years.

Becker: “This is the biggest country in the world, but no male players in the top 100 – we’re about to change this.

Becker’s assertion looks set to quickly become a reality if Yu’s recent progress is continued.

 

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records

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Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

 

“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.

 “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.

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